Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Myths of the Psychometric Paradigm and how they can misinform risk communication

Contents:

Author Info

  • Sjöberg, Lennart

    ()
    (Center for Risk Research)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Extensive research on risk perception has led to a received view (the psychometric model or paradigm), which stresses that members of the public react negatively to technology whenever it (a) is new, (b) causes “dread”, and (c) there is low trust in experts and organizations concerned with managing the risk. Experts, on the other hand, are said to be “objective” and unaffected by “subjective” factors. However, this research has used the same - misleading - methodology in almost all cases and the fact that some of the results have been “many times replicated” is therefore irrelevant to its validity. Analyses of the psychometric model have repeatedly shown that it leaves most of the variance of perceived risk and policy attitudes unexplained. A closer look at several decades' work shows that (a) novelty carries little weight in risk perception, (b) “dread” has not been measured in an appropriate manner and is little powerful, and (c) social trust has a marginal influence as compared to trust in science, epistemological trust. Furthermore, antagonistic attitudes are common and important. Experts exhibit the same structure and level of risk perception as the public; unless they assess risks, they are responsible for managing. In that case, they judge the risk to be drastically smaller than the public does. The importance of epistemic as opposed to social trust stresses the need to take peoples’ concern seriously, not only establish good social relations. The finding that antagonistic attitudes are common and important suggests that being “respectful of people’s feelings” will not be sufficient to establish trust. Failures of risk communication can probably be explained to some extent by the fact that practitioners rely on the misleading notions of the psychometric paradigm.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://swoba.hhs.se/hastba/papers/hastba2006_010.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Business Administration with number 2006:10.

    as in new window
    Length: 18 pages
    Date of creation: 15 Oct 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2006_010

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE 113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
    Phone: +46-(0)8-736 90 00
    Fax: +46-(0)8-31 01 57
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.hhs.se/
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords: risk perception; risk communication; psychometric paradigm;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Sunstein, Cass R, 2003. " Terrorism and Probability Neglect," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 121-36, March-May.
    2. Lennart Sj�berg, 2000. "Perceived risk and tampering with nature," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 353-367, October.
    3. Sjöberg, Lennart, 2004. "Gene Technology in the eyes of the public and experts. Moral opinions, attitudes and risk perception," Working Paper Series in Business Administration 2004:7, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 15 Jun 2004.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2006_010. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Helena Lundin).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.